August 19, 2012

Art Review: Geometrical abstraction at its brilliant best


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“Gauge 31” by Ken Greenleaf, oil pastel on paper.

Courtesy images

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“Akimbo II, 10,” by Duane Paluska, mahogany.

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Icon Contemporary Art, 19 Mason St., Brunswick WHEN: Through Sept. 8 HOURS: 1 to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday; 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday

INFO: 725-8157


WHERE: Center for Maine Contemporary Art, 162 Russell Ave., Rockport WHEN: Through Sept. 22 HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $5 suggested; children and members free

INFO: 236-2875;

The angled joints of Paluska's simple poplar bars are so finely crafted that they look inevitable. These free objects without bases are often covered with fine linen and finished (like his paintings) with mat acrylic gel.

Paluska is an excellent sculptor in the round -- one of the best in Maine (which, unfortunately, is not much of a distinction). Most of the pieces have several viewing angles that transform them entirely -- an effect multiplied by the solidity of the shadows on the beautifully installed and spotlighted pieces.

Paluska's "Feeler" is a wall sculpture that from one angle absolutely looks like the gray form in "Pliers." Yet from another angle, it makes a perfect square -- although with a shadow that makes a balancing triangle like the lower left corner of "Pliers."

While many of Paluska's sculptures use the language of furniture, some -- particularly the few with the new reverse-mitered joints -- seem like picture frames coming alive and into space. "Feeler" is one of these, although few pieces in the show are as elegant as "Hook," which achieves this as well, with sparer simplicity.

Paluska's work has never looked stronger. Any doubts I ever had about it have been completely dissipated.

I had been disappointed that Greenleaf gave up sculpture for painting, but I am thrilled with his current dedication to drawing and its spatial possibilities.

I don't think there's any mutual influence between Greenleaf and Paluska. Within their work, the superficial similarities are incidental. But they make a gorgeously fortuitous comparison for us. It's not the forms, but how these two masters employ them, that ultimately matters.

These are great shows by two of Maine's best artists. They should not be missed.


Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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“Pliers,” top, by Duane Paluska, acrylic, canvas and wood.

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“Blackwork 6,” by Ken Greenleaf, charcoal and collage on paper


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